The Tanzania National Farmers Network Organisation, Mtandao wa Vikundi vya Wakulima Tanzania (MVIWATA) and the African Centre for Biodiversity (ACB) are objecting to an application submitted by the Tanzania Commission for Science and Technology (COSTECH) for confined field trials of Monsanto’s stacked GM maize MON 87460 X MON 810 (GM drought tolerant stacked with throw-away and ineffective insect resistant technology).
Do not allow Africans to be used as guinea pigs for untested high-risk new GM technology
The Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa calls for an immediate ban on the importation into South Africa of Monsanto’s high-risk second-generation gene-silencing genetically modified (GM) maize destined for human consumption. AFSA rejects and condemns US corporation Monsanto’s plan to exploit millions of Africans as unwitting human guinea pigs for their latest genetic engineering experiment. AFSA also condemns the IITA field trial application in Nigeria using this same risky technology to produce GM cassava for the agro-fuels industry.
These GM applications target staple foods of maize and cassava, eaten by many millions of Africans every day. Scientists have reported that the untested gene-silencing effect is able to cross over into mammals and humans, and affect their genetic makeup with unknown potential negative consequences, and have called for long-term animal testing and stronger regulation before this goes ahead.
In an open letter to African Biosafety Regulators AFSA demands that, while these risks remain, the introduction of this untested RNAi technology be unequivocally banned by all member states of the African Union. Regulators in South Africa and Nigeria are urged
In this Alert, the ACB warns that the South African government received an application for the commodity clearance (import for food, feed and processing) of a ‘multi-stacked variety’ of genetically modified (GM) maize – MON87427 × MON89034 × MIR162 × MON87411, which represents the entry of the second generation of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in South Africa. Unlike standard first-generation GMOs, this GM maize variety utilises what is termed the RNA interference (RNAi) pathway. Such GMOs are the latest in the GM push on the wider African continent. Indeed, Nigeria has recently received an application for the field trials of a GM cassava variety that uses RNAi to reduce the amount of starch in cassava, with the purported aim of preventing starch breakdown during storage.
This scoping study aims to appraise, to the best of our knowledge, the current status of the roll-out of a public- private partnership which forms the the Water Efficient Maize for Africa (WEMA) project in five African countries: Kenya, Mozambique, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda. The partnership is between the African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF), the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre (CIMMYT), Monsanto and the National Agricultural Research Agencies (NARs).
A new report from the ACB, “The GM maize onslaught in Mozambique: Undermining biosafety and smallholder farmers” written in conjunction with Acção Academicapara o Desenvolvimento das Comunidades Rurais (ADECRU) has been released today. It provides an analysis of the changes made to Mozambique’s biosafety legislation in order to allow for field trials of genetically modified (GM) maize to take place under the auspices of the Monsanto/Gates Foundation’s Water Efficient Maize for Africa (WEMA) project. The WEMA project is currently pushing forward with field trials involving the highly controversial GM drought tolerant maize variety and old throw away Bt maize, MON810 that has caused massive pest infestation in SA.
Objection to commercial release of MON87460 X NK603 X MON89034 (triple stacked involving drought tolerant maize trait)
In this objection, ACB raises numerous concerns with the application by Monsanto for the commercial release of the triple stacked event.
Drought tolerance is a highly complex genetic trait that cannot be addressed by single gene insertions, as shown by the lack of data backing up the applicant’s claim that this GM variety shows “improvements to yield under drought stress”. n 2016, the ACB also submitted an objectionto the extension of field trials, supported by a petition with over 20 00 signatures. In addition, 63 members of the public copied the objections they have submitted to the Registrar: GMO Act regarding these trials. Members of the public have similarly in respect to this application, signed a petition opposing these trials as well as 71 having submitted direct objections to the Registrar: GMO Act.
These reports introduce the novel techniques already being employed, or in development and their associated biosafety concerns that go against the claim that crops developed with these methods are technological progress in ‘precision’ and ‘safety’. Further described is the utilisation of RNA interference, an epigenetic process that is already being employed in commercialised crops. Despite not being a novel technique under discussion for GM legislation, the utilisation of epigenetic processes based on RNA interference deserves special consideration for biosafety discussion.
These graphics, captured in an easy to read and visually informative manner, illustrate the stark difference of practices and values between the current industrial food system and agroecological food systems.
It is clear that the industrial model is unsustainable, lacks nutrition, destroys livelihoods, and is an unsuitable model as we move into an increasingly uncertain future.
We need radical reforms in agriculture and food systems, which are ecologically and socially just, and ensure safe, healthy, and nutritional food for current and future generations.
This Four-page document summarises the recent report published by the African Centre for Biodiversity: Transitioning out of GM maize: to agroecology for sustainable, socially just and nutritional food systems, that argues that we need to urgently shift away from the mono-focus on a maize towards embracing a diversity of crops – particularly indigenous African summer grain crops such as sorghum and millet – and diverse agricultural practices that support healthy ecosystems, economies and societies
This is the first set of easily-to-read and share material, and is available in 5 languages: English, Afrikaans, isiZulu, isiXhosa and Sesotho.
This synthesis report summarises ACB’s research on the Green Revolution push in Africa, based on fieldwork conducted in Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe over the past three years. The research indicates that the promotion of synthetic fertiliser use in Africa is only a short-term fix for enhancing soil fertility on the continent. In the long run these interventions, spearheaded by organisations such as fertiliser multinational Yara and the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), may even lead to lasting damage to the fragile soil life that is the key to sustainable soil health